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I found a way to earn reputation by downvoting. Specifically: If I downvote a post, then wait a while, then un-downvote the post, my net reputation count increases by 1.

Here's why it's happening. Two days ago, I posted an answer to this question on math.SE. It became a "hot" network question and I quickly reached my daily reputation limit. Thus, the question kept getting upvoted, but I wasn't earning reputation for it (as it should be).

Today, I once again reached my daily reputation limit. After reaching this limit, I downvoted a post on math.SE. So, my daily earned reputation was effectively 199. The next time somebody upvoted my question, I gained +1 reputation. But then, I retracted the downvote. To my surprise, I gained another +1 reputation.

Here is the data on the reputation I gained today:

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Usually, I would have earned 215 in total: 200 reputation from upvotes and 15 from one accepted answer. But instead I earned 216 because I gained the extra +1 from retracting the downvote after already being "reimbursed".

Obviously, this trick isn't widely applicable. A user has to already have reached their reputation cap. And due to the limit of 40 votes per day, they would only be able to use this trick to earn a maximum of 40 bonus reputation points per day. I realize I'm not the first to point out inconsistencies in the voting system (see this, this, this). But as far as I can tell, this is the first instance where it is possible for a user to reliably game the system to earn 40 reputation per day without making any contributions.

Is this a bug? Should it be addressed?

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    I bet you that your reputation will be corrected overnight and you'll lose these points you never had.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 5, 2017 at 22:06
  • You actually can't earn rep by downvoting. If you dowvoted an answer, that was deleted, you'll regain your rep, you lost for downvoting that answer. Jul 5, 2017 at 22:07
  • [status-bydesign] Jul 6, 2017 at 2:03

1 Answer 1

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The system already corrects this on its own. We don't run a recalc on your account every time you change a vote - that's just way too expensive. Instead, whenever your account gets recalculated again next, you'll lose the 1 reputation because it won't make sense anymore. You'll only keep the erroneous reputation as long as it takes the system to schedule a recalc for you.